Tuesday, November 24, 2009

All the Thanks You Can Handle

It's that time of year again.

No, not the time of year where I attempt to buy stock in turkeys.

No, not the time of year where I grow depressed that the Chiefs have not won a playoff game since I was 12.

No, not the time of year where I start wearing football cleats everywhere I go in attempt to avoid disastrous slips on sneaky icy patches.

While all scenarios listed above are certainly feasible (and by "feasible" I mean either ridiculous or cripplingly disappointing), they also stray far from the point I am attempting to make. It's the time of year where giving thanks is the thing to do. Granted, one could put up a very good argument that there's always something to be thankful for. I could not agree more; however, since we are approaching the only holiday that actually contains the word "thanks" in its name*, it seems a good time to express the things I'm thankful for via The Writings.**

*Sorry, Thanksentine's Day. You'll get your recognition at some point.

**Nothing says, "thanks" like a seldom-read blog, right?

I'm thankful to be surrounded by an incredible family that supports me in whatever I do... Even if it involves numerous failed attempts at being funny and an in-depth account of an Ottawanian garage sale.

I'm thankful that the youngest member of my family is healthy, growing, and sharp as a tack. Sure, she'll carry around a globe and call it a basketball, but to the astute observer it's rather obvious that in doing so she's expressing her fondness for the Harlem Globetrotters. My guess is that she'll master this by the time she's two... and will be able to whistle "Sweet Georgia Brown" while she's doing it.

I'm thankful for a variety of friends that continue to tolerate me, even when I have nothing to add to the conversation but an obscure sports reference or television quote.

I'm thankful for The Office and seasons 3-11 of The Simpsons, as they have provided most of the material referred to in the aforementioned sentence.

I'm thankful for employment. I hear being a hobo isn't as glorious as it sounds.

I'm thankful for the opportunity to write. The fact that I have not lost any fingers to blood-thirsty doors is a true blessing.

I'm thankful for the chance to combine two things I enjoy - watching sports and writing - when the opportunity presents itself. Message board threads questioning who the heck I am are icing on the cake.

I'm thankful for the fact that Zack Greinke and Billy Butler did their bests to ensure that ritualistic mass suicides would not occur at Kauffman Stadium over the summer.

I'm thankful for the fact that certain college football coaches are actually familiar with the concepts of "halftime adjustments" and "improving during the season."

I'm thankful that the Chiefs choose to win one game they have absolutely no business winning each year. (See: Broncos, 2008; Steelers, 2009). Even the narrowest sliver of hope still counts as hope.

I'm thankful for the fact that I don't think I can dance. My attempts at Conan O'Brien's string dance belong nowhere near the watching eyes of others.

I'm thankful for the fact that "The Biggest Loser" has always been spoken for as the name of a television show... Just in case I ever get on TV.

I'm thankful for the fact that I'm not on TV. It's what is best for me and for the viewing public that is not fond of the level of boredom that could actually make one's brain attempt to escape one's head through the nostrils.

I'm thankful for the fact that my apartment walls are as thick as a cardstock piece of paper, rather than the standard 20# stock. The "dope rhymes" my neighbor "drops" would probably leave me continually "busting a move" with thinner walls.*

I'm thankful for the fact that my readers are willing to put up with completely dated and out of touch attempts to grasp slang. 

I'm thankful for the fact that someday, Brett Favre will actually retire... Someday.

I'm thankful for the fact that you, the reader, apparently made it through this whole list of items I'm thankful for. If you just skipped to the end, thinking there would be some sort of hilarious grand finale, I'm thankful for you, too. Odds are you're confused concerning what blog you're reading, since I focus mostly on in-depth studies of foreign wars, but the thought is appreciated.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

This Week in Sports - Nov. 15-21

Zack Greinke Wins the AL Cy Young Award
The national media recognizes what most local folks already know: Zack Greinke was the best pitcher in the American League last season. Greinke made several hitters look like they were swinging pool noodles while at the plate this year, and for that he wins baseball's top pitching honor*. He's the first Royal to win the Cy Young since David Cone in the quasi-season (read: strike-shortened) of 1994. Greinke is also the first Cy Young winner to say that he had not been thinking about the award lately because he was busy playing World of Warcraft. How can someone (aside from opposing batters) not love this guy?

*The Cy Young narrowly edges out Royals Pitcher of the Year as the top award for a pitcher in baseball.

Astute readers might wonder why awards like the Cy Young are just now being presented when the baseball regular season finished 44 days ago. The answer to such a query lies in the fact that votes are not certified unless they are first sailed across the Atlantic and then mushed through the course for Alaska's Iditarod. Upon completion of such tasks, Snowball the sled dog will lick (if you're lucky) your ballot*.

*Ballot submission is completed by burying the ballot in the outfield at Wrigley Field, all while angry Cub fans curse about your mother, douse you with beer, and zing batteries at you in attempt to make you lose track of what you're doing.

Dwayne Bowe is Suspended for Using a Substance Banned by the NFL
What this means: The Chiefs will lose to the Steelers this Sunday by 31 instead of 24. Bowe is the Chiefs' best receiver, but such a title is akin to being called the Least Terrifying Raiders fan. They're all folks you wouldn't want to meet in a dark alley*. In the grand scheme of things, Bowe's suspension means very little for this team.

*Note: The Writings do not condone going into dark alleys at all. Nothing good ever comes from a dark alley. If you really need to venture into an alley, wait until daytime. The Writings: We're Here to Keep You From Getting Jumped by Thugs, Ninjas, or Mutated Rats.

I apologize. I'm supposed to be an optimistic fan, but the Chiefs of recent seasons seem be the kryptonite to my super-optimism. At times, I wonder if I'd trust the organization to draft my fantasy football team.

Dolphins Running Back Ronnie Brown is Out for the Rest of the Season
This news, dear readers, is devastating. You see, my fantasy football team - Get Off of Mike Cloud - is already on a losing streak that threatens to eliminate me from playoff contention. That streak continued last weekend thanks in part to Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew making a selfless play and taking a knee to waste time off the clock when he could have scored a touchdown. His act helped his NFL team win, but it cost GOoMC six fantasy points... I lost by three. It seems Mr. Jones-Drew values his spot on the Jaguars' roster (and the checks they pay him) more than the spot on my roster (and the fact that I'm willing to pay him in shout-outs from The Writings... Go get'em, Mo!)

Brown's injury presents me with quite a predicament. He was my No. 2 running back. Now, my options to replace him are Buffalo's Fred Jackson (who has barely been worth a roster spot since starter Marshawn Lynch returned from suspension; however, there's talk that he could assume a greater role if the Bills choose to embrace the Wildcat offense), Indianapolis' Donald Brown (who was threatening to take the load of the carries from starter Joseph Addai, but then suffered an injury) or one of three players on the waiver wire: Atlanta's Jason Snelling (in for an injured Michael Turner), Washington's Ladell Betts (in for an injured Clinton Portis) or Seattle's Justin Forsett (in for an injured Julius Jones).

Best case scenario: Jackson becomes Buffalo's Ronnie Brown, and Donald Brown runs so well coming off his injury that the Colts have no choice but to give him carries. GOoMC ends its losing streak, zips through the playoffs, and leaves me in position to gloat about my championship once the season is over. Also, people don't pity me for putting this much thought into fantasy football.*

*If I ever need to write an essay on why I'm single, I might just copy and paste this section about fantasy football... They'll get the message.

Worst case scenario: My running backs continue to stand on the sidelines. My free agent pickup is injured. Donovan McNabb decides to leave the country. Maurice Jones-Drew thinks that he should start kneeling the ball every time he touches it. Roddy White is attacked by an actual falcon, which proceeds to bite 6 of his fingers off. The Steelers' defense goes on strike. GOoMC scores 14 more points the rest of the season and misses the playoffs; I suffer much taunting as a result.  I suffer much taunting for putting this much thought into fantasy football. My family buys me a CD titled "Your Neighbor's Greatest Hits" for Christmas.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Things I Don't Understand - A Place I Would Not Choose for Relaxation

As I have mentioned in this space previously, on occasion I enjoy taking a quick walk around the park. I find it can be a good way to clear one's head, to take in a nice day, or to encounter individuals fit for proper examination courtesy of The Writings. I haven't been to the park in awhile (the whole "exercise" thing could really tarnish my reputation as one who relishes torpor), but it seems the park is now trying to come find me; I just encountered a park bench... in a public restroom.

Upon seeing the bench in this location, my mind was immediately paralyzed with confusion. You see, my understanding is that park benches serve as:
- a nice place for people to sit and relax;
- a good spot to enjoy a visit with an old friend;
- an excellent location to observe one's surroundings and ponder the beauty of such creation;
- and an ideal setting for taking a loaf of bread/bag of seeds/cage of mice and feeding ducks/pigeons/red-tailed hawks as one pleases.

Alas, I've struggled in figuring out situations where any of the above scenarios would be enjoyable/feasible in a public restroom.

Relaxation? I can think of better spots. (Like hanging by one's toenails off a bridge.)

Visiting? If you're attempting to have a heart-to-heart with someone while flushing toilets provide the audible ambiance, odds are you won't be speaking with that person again.

Observation and pondering? Uhh, no. No.

Feeding winged creatures? If you encounter a public washroom that serves as home to a flock of anything, you have bigger problems than a park bench.

It's obvious that this park bench does not belong in this restroom. The question remains: how did it get there? Is it the result of a prank by a competing hotel? Did a slightly mentally unstable city employee get confused by a supervisor's instructions to install the bench "near your favorite water feature"? Did it simply materialize out of nothingness?

There's really only well way to find out... Unfortunately, that involves me getting off this bench and asking someone.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Things One Learns in Hays, America

- At least one parent in this world thought the name "Jeeroy" was a good idea.

- One is only allowed in a hotel hot tub at 6:45 p.m. if he converses in very loud Spanish.

- Daylight Savings Time does not apply in select hotel rooms.

- Hotels have free Wi-Fi... Free Wi-Fi that actually works is a different matter.

- 10:15 p.m. is not to late for the hotel maintenance guy to knock on your room door to make sure your keys work.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Shocking Stat of the Day

Through an unexplainable series of events, I currently find myself looking at the Internet Movie Database (www.imdb.com) listing for O.J. Simpson. From this page, you can access information on all movies and television programs that Mr. Simpson has ever appeared in (including an episode of Circus of the Stars!).

While it's certainly useful to know that O.J. appeared as himself in a 1977 episode of Celebrity Challenge of the Sexes, today's interesting stat relates to the website's STARmeter. As stated on imdb.com, the STARmeter reflects "what people are interested in, based not on small statistical samplings, but on the actual behavior of millions of IMDb users." In other words, if people check out your profile, your STARmeter rating will jump.

Now it's time to prepare to be shocked and appalled. If you're standing, sit down; if you're sitting, stand up; if you're drinking something, take a big swig so that your spit-take will be worthwhile. Yes, dear readers, this stat will leave you bewildered.

You see, O.J.'s popularity is down six-percent this week.

(Insert collective gasp from all readers of The Writings here.)

Yes, you read that correctly. Mr. Simpson's popularity is down six-percent.

This is horrifying.

How can people be so disinterested in O.J.'s acting career? Granted, his last acting role in a major motion picture was in Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult, which was released 15 years ago. And, granted, he's been involved in a couple moderately publicized legal snafus since that film's release, but does that really call for a decrease of interest in the man's filmography? The man was in Hambone and Hillie, after all: a film that's drawn a respectable 4.8/10 rating on imdb.com. 4.8! That's almost 5!

A six-percent drop in popularity... Crazy.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

240 Words or Less

Upon sending an email citing the absurdity in bragging about college football team's narrow defeat of an unranked opponent, I received a response saying that my reply was long enough to be a book. The reply in question was 240 words long. It seems fairly obvious that the person who made such comments is not a regular read of The Writings. If he was, he'd realize that limiting myself to 240 words is no easy feat... The aforementioned comment also makes one wonder if the replier is much of a reader, as 240 words wouldn't make much of a book. I'm not sure that Tolkien, a master of miniscule details, could have described Tom Bombadil's doorstep in a mere 240 words.

Nonetheless, I decided imposing a 240-word limit might be interesting. After all, what if my readers (wheter real or imagined) sport attention spans similiar to that shared by the frustrated email reader? What if all these continually rambling posts have done nothing but turn people away from The Writings? What if my readers are much like my niece; they can concentrate on one task for only a couple minutes before they feel the need to go build a pyramid of dolls or see what damage they can do with their grandmothers' canes?

I'm willing to adapt. This Writing will not exceed the aforementioned 240-word limit. I'm interested to see what I can accomplish with such boundaries, and I'll start with-